18 Apr 2012

Government Spent $205,075 Relocating a Bush in SF

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CNS:

The government spent at least $205,075 in 2010 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1.045-billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the economic stimulus legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

“In October 2009, an ecologist identified a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip along Doyle Drive in the Presidio as Arctostaphylos franciscana,” the U.S. Department of Interior reported in the Aug. 10, 2010 edition of the Federal Register. “The plant’s location was directly in the footprint of a roadway improvement project designed to upgrade the seismic and structural integrity of the south access to the Golden Gate Bridge.

“The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010,” the Interior Department reported.

The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”

Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years–extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens. …

While the MOA did not detail all the costs for moving the bush, it did state that in addition to funding removal and transportation of the Franciscan manzanita, Caltrans agreed to transfer $79,470 to the Presidio Trust “to fund the establishment, nurturing, and monitoring of the Mother Plant in its new location for a period not to exceed ten (10) years following relocation and two (2) years for salvaged rooted layers and cuttings according to the activities outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

Furthermore, Presidio Parkway Project spokesperson Molly Graham told CNSNews.com that the “hard removal”—n.b. actually digging up the plant, putting it on a truck, driving it somewhere else and replanting it–cost $100,000.

The MOA also stated that Caltrans agreed to “Transfer $25,605.00 to the Trust to fund the costs of reporting requirements of the initial 10-year period as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The $100,000 to pay for the “hard removal,” the $79,470 to pay for the “establishment, nurturing and monitoring” of the plant for a decade after its “hard removal,” and the $25,605 to cover the “reporting requirements” for the decade after the “hard removal,” equaled a total cost of $205,075 for “translocating” this manzanita bush.

But those were not the only costs incurred by taxpayers on behalf of the bush. According to the MOA, other costs included:

–“Contract for and provide funding not to exceed $7,025.00 for initial genetic or chromosomal testing of the Mother Plant by a qualified expert to be selected at Caltrans’ sole discretion.” (MOA – Fran Man – 2009.pdf)

–“Contract for and fund the input, guidance, and advice of a qualified Manzanita expert on an as-needed basis to support the tending of the Mother Plant for a period not to exceed five (5) years, provided that said expert selection, retention and replacement at any point after hiring rests in the sole discretion of Caltrans.”

“Provide funding not to exceed $5,000.00 to each of 3 botanical gardens (Strybing, UC, and Tilden) to nurture salvaged rooted layers and to monitor and report findings as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

–“Provide funding not to exceed $1,500.00 for the long-term seed storage of 300 seeds collected around the Mother Plant in November 2009 as outlined in the Conservation Plan.”

The plant is now protected by a fence and its location is kept secret, in part because the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service fear that nature-lovers seeking to see the rare wild Manzanita might trample it to death.

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This nursery normally sells Franciscan manzanita.

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It is a bit complicated. Hooker’s manzanita is a shrub indigenous to the San Franciso Bay Area with several subspecies. One of these subspecies, Franciscan manzanita, was thought to be “extinct in the wild.”

It, nonetheless, survived in cultivation in yards and gardens, and could be purchased from nurseries at modest prices.

Doubtless, the extinction “in the wild” of the subspecies specifically associated with San Francisco has a lot to do with the reduction of the extent of “the wild” in an intensely developed, densely populated urban center.

So, having found an example flourishing in what the authorities choose to define as the wild, those same authorities with the characteristic wisdom and fiscal responsibility concluded that pompous, heroic (and very costly) measures had to be taken to save the contextually-precious plant.

No one in authority noticed that all this was complete madness.

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3 Feedbacks on "Government Spent $205,075 Relocating a Bush in SF"

Thalpy

A method of measurement for this lunacy has yet to be developed.



JKB

I think you are missing the fact than now several Stanford and UC biology grads have “employment” or if currently professors, grants for nearly a decade. Better still, the existence of this plant will support research grant applications for many years to come. It is all very exciting, with the added bonus of sticking it to those evil transportation people.

Gooooo, Green!



Fred Z

I moved a bush once. I hired two laborers at $15 and hour and they moved it. I paid them $60.

I am apparently unsuitable for government work.



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